Living Room Theatre: A More Intimate Art
When my sister and I were younger, one of our favorite things to do was to perform plays in our living room. We spent most, if not all, of our preparation time digging through piles of overworn and ragged princess costumes and scarves to find what we wanted to wear, and then our performance would typically revolve around the outfits we chose. This was a process we took very seriously, and we expected everyone to do the same. By the time we excitedly dragged our parents to the living room to watch our show, we had no idea what we were about to perform. We would then wander around at our leisure, making the show up as we went along. After about five minutes of this fine theatre, my parents would start clapping and would try to make a move toward freedom. We would exclaim that we were not yet done, and they would patiently sit back down, waiting for the next lull in our stimulating performance when they could try to escape again.
So, when I heard about a real theatre company in Houston that was producing plays out of a living room, I was intrigued. This would be a chance to see what my sister and I could have done with our extraordinary talents if we had continued the practice of living room plays into adulthood.
In all seriousness, though, I love theatre, and I find unconventional theatre like this to be especially interesting.
Hune Company is currently performing Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth. The play follows the story of three young people struggling in the early ’80s in New York City. The story is raw, realistic, and engaging, and I think its production in a living room greatly enhanced it.
I was not really sure to what to expect with this living room performance since I had never seen anything of a similar nature. The living room had black cloth hung in a narrow rectangle, creating the walls of the theatre and partitioning it from the rest of the living room. Inside were about 20 seats and a performance area. It was by far the smallest theatre I have ever been in.
The size and set up, however, were perfect for this performance, and I cannot imagine this show being produced in a larger, less intimate space. The entirety of the play is set inside a tiny apartment. The “stage” actually fit the proportions of this realistically, and the close proximity of the audience to the stage made me feel like I was actually a part of the performance. The size of the space created a sense of realism, and I think it allowed for a kind of naturalism that is harder to portray in a larger theatre space. The acting in this performance was quite strong as well, and it helped the play come off as an honest piece of life.
This production was one that really proved that strong theatre can exist in any setting and can, in fact, be enhanced by an unconventional location. I believe that theatre is a reflection of life, so it is important for it to be as realistic as possible. This play achieved this realism and was something very special to watch, proving the living room play to be a very creative and effective idea. Perhaps my sister and I should have sold tickets.